Catalunyan GP: Yamaha Team Friday qualifying report

Marlboro Catalan Grand Prix, Catalunya First Qualifying, Friday June 14 2002 MARLBORO YAMAHA ALREADY ON THE PACE Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi were fourth and seventh quickest in this afternoon's opening qualifying...

Marlboro Catalan Grand Prix, Catalunya
First Qualifying, Friday June 14 2002


Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi were fourth and seventh quickest in this afternoon's opening qualifying session for the Marlboro Catalan Grand Prix, run in sweltering 32-degree heat around the demanding Catalunya racetrack.

Two weeks after the pair's impressive display of speed at the Italian GP, Checa was just three tenths off provisional pole position despite being well away from his ideal machine set-up, underlining the immense progress made by Yamaha since the first group preseason tests here in March, when the M1 was 0.949 seconds off the pace.

"We've gone for a chassis set-up that gives good turning and good turning with brake on, but we still have much to do here," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "Both riders have both their bikes equipped with the new chassis here, which makes it easier for us to work on set-up. We did go testing at Valencia after Mugello, to experiment with a range of different chassis settings, but Valencia is a much tighter circuit than this, so here we're probably midway between that set-up and our Mugello set-up. I'm very happy that the new chassis gave no chatter today, which is usually a problem at this track, though I'm a bit concerned about tyre endurance in this heat."


Carlos Checa is looking good at the end of day one of his home Grand Prix, but the Marlboro Yamaha Team star is far from satisfied with his fourth place on the provisional grid. At the last two GPs Checa was in the thick of the battle for pole, and as the mighty M1 continues to improve, he expects more and more from himself and his machine.

"We're very focused for this weekend but so far we're quite far from where we want to be," said the Spaniard, who was 0.336 seconds off provisional pole after heading the times for more than half the session. "We had a few settings problems this morning and although we worked hard to improve things this afternoon, we'll need to make a few more changes for tomorrow. The heat means that everyone's lap times aren't fantastic, and while I wasn't using a soft tyre at the end of the session, I was trying my maximum on my best lap. Tomorrow I'll need the bike to keep rolling more easily through the corners, and I'll also need better feeling on the corner exits. But compared to before, we're okay. This was never a good track for us with the 500, but this bike already feels better here. Now we're working to make sure it's even better at the end of the weekend."


Max Biaggi ended this afternoon's qualifier in seventh place, less than half a second off provisional pole, despite a few minor gremlins with his Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1. But the Italian, who was a close-run second at Mugello a fortnight back and also finished second here last year, is already feeling good about Sunday's race.

"We had a few little problems this afternoon, which held me back a bit," explained Biaggi. "The power didn't seem to be consistent, sometimes I would lose power out of a corner, other times it would be fine. But I'm not too worried, it's always better to have your problems in practice, rather than in the race! All being well, we should have more time to work on settings tomorrow. We started this morning with a base setting we came up with at Valencia, then we made a small change for this afternoon and now we need to further adapt the bike to this track for tomorrow, mostly working on the front end. There's more to do but I feel we should be okay here for race day."


The new MotoGP four-strokes have taken pole position at all five GPs so far this year (with series leader Valentino Rossi on top on each occasion), but Honda NSR500 rider Loris Capirossi struck a blow for the two-strokes today, just 0.081 seconds fraction faster than quickest four-stroke man Sete Gibernau (Suzuki). Capirossi's Barcelona-based team regularly test at Catalunya, giving the Italian an intimate knowledge of this tricky racetrack.

"We do know this track very well, which is good for us," said the Italian who finished third here last year. "But this is only the first day and for sure the four-strokes will get faster tomorrow. I was sick after breakfast, so I went to the Clinica Mobile, but I feel okay now."

1. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 1'45.451
2. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) 1'45.532
3. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 1'45.619
4. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'45.787

7. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'45.948


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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Tohru Ukawa , Sete Gibernau